The Supreme Court in Malaya Nanda Sethy v. State of Orissa and Others stated that If the goal and purpose of a compassionate appointment are to be met, the Bench noted that such applications must be reviewed promptly rather than late.
The Supreme Court recently stated that applications for compassionate appointment must be considered and approved by the authorities as soon as possible, but no later than six months after the completed application is submitted.
The goal of such appointments, according to the bench comprising Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna of the Division Bench, is to provide financial support to the family of a deceased employee.
“Considering the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate grounds, i.e., a family of a deceased employee may be placed in a position of financial hardship upon the untimely death of the employee while in service and the basis or policy is immediacy in rendering of financial assistance to the family of the deceased consequent upon his untimely death, the authorities must consider and decide such applications for appointment on compassionate grounds as per the policy prevalent, at the earliest, but not beyond a period of six months from the date of submission of such completed applications,” The Court stated
The Court was considering an appeal challenging the Orissa High Court’s decision not to order the state authorities to appoint the appellant on compassionate grounds.
The appellant’s father, who was employed as an Assistant Sub-Inspector in the Excise Department, died on the job on January 2, 2010.
In July 2010, the appellant applied for a compassionate appointment as a Junior Clerk under the Orissa Civil Service (Rehabilitation Assistance) Rules, 1990 (1990 Rules), because his mother was unable to work for the government due to her physical condition.
The Excise Department did not respond to the application for five years. However, five years later, on September 9, 2016, the Additional Secretary asked the Collector to provide a new report on the deceased’s family’s financial situation.
A report from the appellant’s mother was also called before the Medical Board for adequate assessment to determine whether her inability to do the government job was still present.
It was asserted that the appellant’s mother was unsuited for government employment and that the appellant’s household income from all sources did not exceed INR 72,000 per year.
Despite the foregoing, the authorities kept the appellant’s claim pending, and before any judgement could be made, the 1990 regulations were replaced by the Orissa Civil Services (Rehabilitation Assistance) Rules 2020. (2020 Rules).
The appellant’s application was referred to the Collector on April 26, 2021, for action to be taken under the newly enacted 2020 Rules.
The appellant filed a writ petition in the Orissa High Court, claiming that the application was decided using the 2020 Rules rather than the 1990 Rules. The claim was dismissed because the claim should be assessed under the modified Rules in effect at the time of the application’s consideration, not the Rules in effect on the date of the government servant’s death.
Aggrieved, the appellant filed this appeal before the Supreme Court.
According to the Court’s decision in Secretary to Govt. Department of Education (Primary) and others v. Bheemesh alias Bheemappa (2021), the policy in effect at the time the compassionate ground application was filed should be applied, not the subsequent scheme in effect at the time the application was decided.
The respondents, on the other hand, maintained that, as previously stated in NC Santosh v. State of Karnataka (2020), the claim should be assessed under the revised Rules in effect at the time of the application’s consideration, not the Rules in effect at the time of the government servant’s death.
The Supreme Court acknowledged that opinions differ on whether the scheme or regulations in effect on the date of the government servant’s death should apply or whether the scheme or rules in effect on the date of consideration of the application of the compassionate ground should apply.
Leaving aside the aforementioned question, the Court in this instance determined that the appellant was entitled to a compassionate appointment under the 1990 regulations, which were in effect at the time the deceased employee died, i.e., in 2010.
“In July 2010, the appellant applied for appointment on compassionate ground as a Junior Clerk under the 1990 Rules. …it can be seen that there was no fault and/or delay and/or negligence on the part of the appellant at all. He was fulfilling all the conditions for appointment on compassionate grounds under the 1990 Rules. For no reason, his application was kept pending and/or no order was passed on one ground or the other. Therefore, when there was no fault and/or delay on the part of the appellant and all throughout there was a delay on the part of the department/authorities, the appellant should not be made to suffer.”The Court Observed
The Bench observed that not appointing the appellant under the 1990 Rules would emphasise the department’s/authorities’ delay and/or inaction.
As a result, the Court noted that the appellant was a victim of the department’s/authorities’ delay and/or inactivity, and that the appellant should not be denied appointment under the 1990 Rules.
As a result, the High Court’s decision was overturned.
The Bench further found it was appropriate to order the authorities to evaluate and decide compassionate appointment applications as soon as possible, preferably within six months of the date of submission of such completed petitions.
“If the object and purpose of appointment on compassionate grounds as envisaged under the relevant policies or the rules have to be achieved then it is just and necessary that such applications are considered well in time and not in a tardy way,”the Court Observed